The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was unequivocally a success. Based on the comic book series of the same name, Guardians skillfully brought a collection of relatively unknown characters and extraterrestrial locations to life on screen for the first time, which resulted in a fun and original movie that far exceeded expectations and grossed almost $800 million worldwide. The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was unequivocally a success. Based on the comic book series of the same name, Guardians skillfully brought a collection of relatively unknown characters and extraterrestrial locations to life on screen for the first time, which resulted in a fun and original movie that far exceeded expectations and grossed almost $800 million worldwide. Guardians followed a rag-tag group of criminals turned good and forced into an unlikely alliance to save the galaxy from Ronan, an extremist alien warlord. One of 2014’s most entertaining movies, Guardians combined bright colors, thrilling action, funny, loveable characters, and a popular soundtrack filled with ’70s hits. It has since become one of the most beloved movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released this spring, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had the daunting task of living up to the success of the first movie. In terms of money, it certainly has. Vol. 2 exceeded its predecessor’s opening weekend profit of $97.3 million by nearly $50 million. As much as I would like to say otherwise, my expectations were not very high for Vol. 2. I was worried Writer and Director James Gunn would try too hard to emulate his first movie. But despite some flaws, I found Vol. 2 nearly as good as the original. The sequel features returning characters, including the Guardians—Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord), Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Baby Groot, played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel, respectively—as well as some new faces.The sequel first depicts a conflict between the Guardians and an arrogant alien race called the Sovereign, who feel disrespected when Rocket—a genetically enhanced raccoon—steals the powerful Anulax batteries that the Sovereign hired the Guardians to protect. However, the focus soon shifts to Kurt Russell’s Ego, who turns out to be Quill’s long-lost father. The rest of the movie revolves around Quill’s budding relationship with Ego and the Guardians’ fight against the main villain. (To avoid spoilers, I will not say exactly who that is.)Unfortunately, the Sovereign is one of the movie’s flaws. Almost all character development comes through dialogue and exposition rather than through the actions of the characters, which is especially true in the case of the Sovereign. As their motivations aren’t readily apparent and their backstory is not very fleshed out, the Sovereign ultimately seem more like generic bad guys than well-developed characters. In addition, the script often forces themes rather than allowing them to develop naturally. In Vol. 2, for example, Gunn attempts to apply the theme of family to virtually every character in the film, which gives the theme less weight with the characters for whom it is most relevant, such as Quill as he reconnects with Ego. This is most true in the ending, which is otherwise surprisingly poignant for an action film. After the movie’s climax, the characters’ emotions feel very real, but the scene is so drawn out, and the idea of family so forced, that by the end I felt as though the emotional power of the scene had faded.These flaws don’t mean that I disliked the movie. In fact, I really enjoyed it. The soundtrack once again sounded stellar, with classic titles like Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” among the highlights on the playlist. I was constantly laughing from the adorable Baby Groot—a sentient, tree-like being—or from Dave Bautista’s fantastic portrayal of Drax, a bloodthirsty, revenge-seeking criminal in the first movie but a comic relief in the second. Additionally, the action, bolstered by excellent visuals and sound effects, was vibrant and exciting.In sum, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was fantastic—an enjoyable experience for those seeking a lighthearted summer action film. While its themes may have felt forced and its character development was lacking at times, Gunn must be praised for attempting to add depth to the movie’s prominent characters and for conceiving yet another quality blockbuster. So, sometime over the course of the next month when you’re bored from a lack of homework, set aside two hours to see this marvelous film.